Survive in the Wild

Our best camping hints,first-aid advice and survival tips to keep you alive.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

207. Walk the Walk
When you're hiking, never step on anything you can step over or around. Give up elevation grudgingly, unless you know you won't have to walk uphill again.

208. Under Cover
When it comes to shelter, clothing is the first line of defense. Wear long-sleeved shirts and full-length pants. Such clothing protects in hot or cold weather because it helps control body temperature and reduce dehydration. Long clothing also helps prevent sunburn, scrapes, bites and other minor injuries.

209. Extra Grub
No matter how long your trip is supposed to last, take enough compact, high-calorie emergency food (such as energy bars) to last a few extra days. Starvation might not be a primary concern, but mental and physical faculties deteriorate quickly after a few days without sustenance. In a weakened state, you could get seriously hurt.

**210. Crude Compass **
Thrust a stick into the ground at a slight angle. The degree of angle doesn't really matter, because all you need is to have the tip of the shadow off to one side so you can monitor its movement as the sun travels. The taller the stick, the faster the shadow will move across the ground. The tip of the shadow will move from west to east.

211. Cat Attack
If a cougar attacks you, try to stay on your feet and fight with whatever's available-a knife, stick, rock, backpack or club. The cat intends to kill you.

212. know your surroundings
Study the slope of the ground, the way natural drainages flow and the direction in which trees and shrubs have been bent by the prevailing wind. Memorize eye-catching and unique landmarks. Every so often, turn around and study your back trail to get clues about what it should look like on the return trip. As you walk, tie bits of bright surveyor's tape to twigs at eye level, attaching the next one while you're still able to see the last one. Position the markers so they'll be visible from a back-trail perspective. Remove the trail markers as you hike out.

213. Sun Gone? Hunker Down
If you're caught away from camp at night, stop where you are, start a fire and wait until morning to continue on. If conditions are severe, build a shelter to protect against the elements. If the weather isn't a concern, it might be sufficient to wrap up in your Space Blanket and sleep in a pile of pine duff. The point is to discontinue travel until daylight for safety's sake.

214. Orient a Map
Maps are printed with north at the top, and you need to orient a map so it agrees with the actual direction of north. Lay the map flat and use a compass to align the map so it and the compass both point north.

[pagebreak] 215. Priority List
Establishing survival priorities is critical. Depending on conditions, emergency medical care, shelter, a fire for warmth or signaling, drinking water or food will head the priority list. In emergencies, analyze the situation and decide which action is most important under the circumstances.

216. control Fear
Uncontrolled fear is an enemy that can keep you from doing the things you need to do to stay alive. If you're in a survival situation and someone has suffered a fear-generated breakdown, there are things you can do to help.

* Speak calmly and confidently about the situation. Your attitude and behavior will have a huge impact on others in the party.
* Formulate a plan. Organize the work to be done. Set priorities according to the demands of the particular situation.
* Lead by example, not by edict. Get up and start doing the most important tasks, and ask others to help. To avoid confusion, be very clear about the way the tasks should be done.
* Consult with everyone. One person rarely has all the best answers. Express gratitude for the input of otrs. Instill a sense of teamwork in everyone.
* Upgrade living conditions. A shelter not only protects against the elements, but also gives the mental impression of security. A fire at night wards off fear of the darkness and lends psychological comfort. One hot meal per day will make life bearable. Stay as clean as possible-hygiene is important not only to prevent disease, but to help maintain dignity as well.
* Actively promote rescue through the use of signal devices and techniques.
* Remain optimistic and speak in positive terms to others.

217 Float on Waders
If you become submerged in a swift current while wearing hip or chest waders, shed the waders as quickly as you can, get to the surface and try to empty the waders of water. Then allow the waders to fill with air, clamp off their open ends by rolling them up and use them as a flotation device. After reaching safety, put the waders back on to help protect against foot injury and frostbite.

218. Take Stock
If you become lost, take inventory of everything on your body, in your pack and in your vehicle or camp, and think creatively about all the possible uses for these items. Examine what nature has provided that will add to your inventory. Deadfall, bushes, tree limbs, boulders or an overhanging ledge can all provide shelter. A stream, snow bank or pond is a water supply. Dry wood, fibrous bark and dead grasses will fuel a fire.

219. Save Strength
Extend your food and water supply by not overworking or wasting energy on useless activities. [pagebreak]

220. Boil all water
To kill waterborne bacteria, bring water to a rolling boil for one minute at sea level and one additional minute for every 1,000 feet of elevation above sea level. If you don't know your elevation, boil water for 10 minutes just to be absolutely sure.

**221 Reading a Wristwatch Compass **
In a broad, General sense, the hands of an analog watch can indicate direction. Assuming you're in the northern hemisphere, hold the watch horizontally and point the hour hand toward the sun. Bisect the angle between the hour hand and 12 o'clock. The bisecting line will point in a southerly direction.

If your watch is digital, draw the face of an analog watch on a piece of paper and use it to achieve the same results.

**222. Sick of Heights **
The primary symptoms of altitude sickness are headache, loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, light-headedness, difficulty in sleeping, confusion and staggering. To avoid them, ascend slowly over a prolonged period of time. Ascending beyond 8,000 feet should be done at a rate of no more than 1,500 feet per day. The best remedy is to descend to a lower elevation.

223. Three Levels of Bleeding
Capillary bleeding: Evident in a slowly oozing wound; often caused by simple abrasions. Check the wound for foreign matter and, if any is present, gently remove it. Swab the wound with a diluted anti- septic solution. Use a dry, non-adherent dressing if necessary.

Venous bleeding: Dark red blood pours from the wound slowly but steadily. Check the wound for foreign objects. Stop the bleeding. Use a non-adherent dressing if necessary and wrap it with a roller bandage. Immobilize and elevate the injury above the heart level.

Arterial bleeding: Distinguished by spurts of bright red blood with each heartbeat. This is a life-threatening emergency. Check for foreign matter in the wound. Apply direct pressure to stop the bleeding. Apply a non-adherent dressing, followed by a pad.

Lay the victim down. Immobilize and elevate the injury above the level of the heart. Apply a roller bandage. Treat for shock. Call an ambulance or transport the victim to an emergency medical facility immediately.

[pagebreak] 224. Make Yourself Seen
_Fire: _At night, keep at least one signal fire going. Three fires arranged in a line or in a triangle constitute a recognized distress signal. Try to position the signal fire in a clearing, so it can be seen from a distance.

Smoke: During daylight hours, smoke from a signal fire might be visible for miles. If oil or rubber is available, burn it to produce black smoke (deflate spare tires before burning). Small amounts of green or wet foliage fed carefully into the fire will produce billowing white smoke.

_Motion: _Movement will attract attention. When you think searchers are near, wave a colorful shirt. Keep a large piece of colored cloth tied to the top of a pole at all times, in case searchers are glassing your locale.

Color and Pattern: Lay out a pattern of colored or contrasting items (clothing, backpacks, rocks, boughs or logs) in a clearing, or even dig a trench. Make the "sign" as large as possible, and create as much contrast as you can. "SOS" and "HELP" are universally understood, but a large "V" is a recognized distress signal, too, and doesn't require as much material. If medical assistance is needed, make a large "X."

_Noise: _Sounds grouped in sets of three-whether gunshots, whistles or blasts on a horn-also are recognized distress signals. Don't shout for help. Blowing a whistle requires less energy than screaming, and the sound of your own desperate voice might frighten you more. If you're in a group, screaming might be all it takes to unhinge your partners, too.

_Reflection: _If you don't have a signal mirror, use anything shiny-the bottom of a tin plate, the blade of a knife, a belt buckle, a compact disc, a binocular lens, even the polished connector sleeve of a tent pole.

125. Carry Extra Fire Starters
Carry at least three separate fire-starters: one in your pants pocket, one in your jacket and one in your pack. Choose from among waterproof and windproof matches, a stormproof lighter, flint and steel and road flares, among others.

226. Don't Dry Up
If you don't have water to drink, forego eating for a while. Digestion of food speeds the metabolic rate, which adds heat to the body and increases water loss.

227. Detecting Frostbite
As the skin freezes, it loses sensation and turns a grayish or yellowish white. The flesh becomes stiff and crisp to the touch. If you're with friends, watch each other for signs of freezing tissue. If you're alone, use a signal mirror to inspect yourself.

228. Cramps Cure
If muscle cramps become chronic, stop to rest and drink plenty of water. Recovery usually comes quickly, but quit all strenuous activity for the rest of the day and allow muscles to rehydrate.

[pagebreak] 229ourself Seen
_Fire: _At night, keep at least one signal fire going. Three fires arranged in a line or in a triangle constitute a recognized distress signal. Try to position the signal fire in a clearing, so it can be seen from a distance.

Smoke: During daylight hours, smoke from a signal fire might be visible for miles. If oil or rubber is available, burn it to produce black smoke (deflate spare tires before burning). Small amounts of green or wet foliage fed carefully into the fire will produce billowing white smoke.

_Motion: _Movement will attract attention. When you think searchers are near, wave a colorful shirt. Keep a large piece of colored cloth tied to the top of a pole at all times, in case searchers are glassing your locale.

Color and Pattern: Lay out a pattern of colored or contrasting items (clothing, backpacks, rocks, boughs or logs) in a clearing, or even dig a trench. Make the "sign" as large as possible, and create as much contrast as you can. "SOS" and "HELP" are universally understood, but a large "V" is a recognized distress signal, too, and doesn't require as much material. If medical assistance is needed, make a large "X."

_Noise: _Sounds grouped in sets of three-whether gunshots, whistles or blasts on a horn-also are recognized distress signals. Don't shout for help. Blowing a whistle requires less energy than screaming, and the sound of your own desperate voice might frighten you more. If you're in a group, screaming might be all it takes to unhinge your partners, too.

_Reflection: _If you don't have a signal mirror, use anything shiny-the bottom of a tin plate, the blade of a knife, a belt buckle, a compact disc, a binocular lens, even the polished connector sleeve of a tent pole.

125. Carry Extra Fire Starters
Carry at least three separate fire-starters: one in your pants pocket, one in your jacket and one in your pack. Choose from among waterproof and windproof matches, a stormproof lighter, flint and steel and road flares, among others.

226. Don't Dry Up
If you don't have water to drink, forego eating for a while. Digestion of food speeds the metabolic rate, which adds heat to the body and increases water loss.

227. Detecting Frostbite
As the skin freezes, it loses sensation and turns a grayish or yellowish white. The flesh becomes stiff and crisp to the touch. If you're with friends, watch each other for signs of freezing tissue. If you're alone, use a signal mirror to inspect yourself.

228. Cramps Cure
If muscle cramps become chronic, stop to rest and drink plenty of water. Recovery usually comes quickly, but quit all strenuous activity for the rest of the day and allow muscles to rehydrate.

[pagebreak] **229